Wokingham Art Society
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Alan Brain: "Inspiration", 19 Oct 2010
Visit him at www.alanbrainart.com - you'll find his latest newsletters there, too.
Alan waited patiently for the end of our AGM before telling us what he wanted to do. He has found that success in painting relies on Inspiration and Individuality and so he wanted to talk about how to find them, keep them and express them.

Inspiration is inside you. Keep asking yourself:
Does the subject excite me?
What feeling am I trying to create in my painting?
Am I honestly painting what I feel about what I see, not just painting what I see?

These four artists (right) were certainly not trying to be photographic.

"Work at it". If Alan's experience is anything to go by you will have plenty of false starts. Once you find what excites you, stay with it. On-going inspiration will lead to paintings that are individual and personal.
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In your search for inspiration, beware of dangers like:
Art Tutors who show you how to paint, particularly those that show you how to paint like them!
Well-meaning folk who want you to paint what they like.
Fashions and acceptability
Painting to sell

In Alan's second part he explained how the feeling he wanted to create emerged and was refined with each painting.

At first he was just looking for inspiration and there was no direction in his development, no passion. He was, though, getting more experience of handling brushes and paint.

Left are some early attempts: an estuary with much input from a tutor; an ordinary watercolour; an attempt at unrealistic colours and a painstaking aeroplane (not much better than a photo. "Never again!").

Everyone is different and will find different personal loves if they work on it. In Alan's case, he realised that one emotion he really appreciated was solitude. How to depict it?

He tried to re-live events in his mind, to capture the feeling as clearly as he could. He collected useful shapes and massaged them into what he wanted. He chose colours that seemed right, forgetting actual ones.

The sequence of twelve images below shows how Alan's representation of Solitude has developed from the obvious to the more abstract.
Even some much looser, brighter, paintings and the odd nude didn't really satisfy him.

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Is he getting the feel of solitude? Not quite, he felt, but it is certainly what he wanted to paint. There is no word to describe it correctly. Invent one – Lonlitude? He found it exciting to find out where this was going.


Alan used to love to fly solo - his love of solitude and open space could be experienced in full up there. It is showing in his paintings now without deliberate effort.
By the end of this journey, he's found that inspiration is always there and he has no worries about what to paint next. Perseverance led to creativity and individual personal paintings - paintings that were really him.

The summing-up was enthusiastically appreciated by the audience and Alan was applauded appropriately. This led into lively discussion, from which I noted a few comments and recommendations:
The medium doesn't matter - use what you like best
You can nearly always get by with the colours you already have
Although the intellect comes into it, he finds that composition and colour are mostly instinctive
Shapes are important - they need working on
Every painting is an experiment

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